FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement in support of Hamilton’s rejection of anti-trans disinformation
HAMILTON, ONTARIO, August 28, 2023 – We endorse the statement made by Hamilton Trans Health Coalition in response to a recent letter published in the Hamilton Spectator on July 21st. Attacks against trans and gender-diverse people are increasing in media and public discourse, abroad and at home. Everyone can and should learn to apply critical analysis to the disinformation and tactics employed in these attacks.
Trans youth are real. They know their genders and identities. Social affirmation and medical transition, when requested, are solidly evidence-based methods of ensuring their best health outcomes.
Access to evidence-based healthcare is a matter of access to justice. To learn more about our commitment to address unmet legal needs of the LGBTQIA+ and Two Spirit communities in Hamilton please visit queerjustice.ca.
Recipients of Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) may be eligible to obtain a cooling device (such as an air conditioner) as a discretionary benefit.
As the frequency of extreme heat events occurs, the need for cooling devices increases. Those without access to cool spaces during extreme heat events can be subjected to prolonged exposure. Such exposure can cause loss of internal temperature regulation which can lead to various negative health effects or, in some cases, death.
The impacts of extreme heat events disproportionately effect certain vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, low-income earners, and individuals with existing health vulnerabilities.
Learn more, including eligibility requirements and restrictions, in OW and ODSP Discretionary Benefits and Cooling Devices (PDF). This is a resource developed by the Canadian Environmental Law Association.
May 30th, 2023
We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life this past Saturday when two tenants were allegedly killed by their landlord outside their home in Stoney Creek, Ontario. We extend our sincerest condolences to their families and loved ones for their loss. We urge others to respect their privacy at this time.
It has come to our attention that, over the past few days, there were many people using this horrific tragedy for their own aims and political agendas over social media about landlord and tenant relationships. Speculating on the reasons for the tragedy without all the facts available is unacceptable and has the potential to incite further violence and we condemn it. Any such comments are reckless and harmful to the victims and their loved ones.
Everyone has the right to be safe in their home, whether they rent that home or own it. Our thoughts are with the bereaved and the wider Stoney Creek community in this difficult time.
February 1, 2023
Last Friday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its long-awaited decision on the Region of Waterloo’s Application to remove individuals from a homeless encampment. The Court held that the Region could not remove people from the encampment without violating their right to “life, liberty and security of the person” guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Superior Court made the following factual findings:
We have repeatedly raised the very same issues with the City of Hamilton and continue to do so in the Charter Application currently before the Superior Court about encampments in Hamilton. We are confident that when our case is heard, the Superior Court’s judgment in the Region of Waterloo case will be followed for Hamilton.
Until the City can provide encampment residents with immediate, permanent and supportive housing, any kind of encampment eviction violates the Charter. In addition to violating the rights to life, liberty and security of the person, encampment evictions discriminate against unhoused Indigenous and racialized individuals, women, people with disabilities, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and families. Until the City invests in and delivers permanent, affordable housing and related supports, the Charter requires the City to permit people to use tents and other survival materials.
Instead of complying with the Charter and taking meaningful and concrete steps to respond to these longstanding concerns, the City continues to rely on By-law enforcement and eviction, and on pouring resources into fruitless litigation that could be spent on affordable housing.
Indeed, the City has just recommended hiring two additional Municipal Law Enforcement Officers, at an annual cost of $277,000.00, and two Hamilton Police Services officers at an annual cost of $268,646.00 (see agenda item 10.4). Policing continues to be a violent and inappropriate solution to the lack of affordable housing. We oppose it unequivocally.
The City’s own Report arising from consultation sessions states “encampment evictions have profoundly negative impact on people’s physical and mental well-being.” The Superior Court reached the same conclusion. It remains to be seen whether Council will finally acknowledge these profound harms, move away from By-law enforcement, and focus on the creation of affordable housing.
The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, Hāki Chambers Global, Ross & McBride, and the Community Legal Clinic of York Region, continue to challenge the City’s discriminatory approach to encampments and unhoused residents in Court, until such time as Council takes steps to remedy the harm the City has caused to houseless residents.
For media inquiries please contact:
Sujit Choudhry: (416) 436-3679, (917) 683-1380
Sharon Crowe: (437) 218-2364
Ashley Wilson: (905) 572-5833
On November 24th, 2022, a hate rally was organized in response to a family-friendly Drag Storytime event being held at the Terryberry library. Unfortunately, in response to the organization of this event, a small group of bigots gathered in an attempt to disrupt and protest. The words and actions of this group were in line with the rising tide of violence and hate that Queer communities across Canada are facing. Their allegations against the organizers, talent, and Queer community more broadly, have no basis in reality, and are irresponsible, ignorant, and dangerous. The Queer Justice Project and the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic condemn this hateful demonstration.
Such events are displays of ignorant bigotry that are putting our Queer communities in danger. It must not rest solely on Queer communities to bear witness, defend against, and call out this pattern of hate and violence. For our community at large, who might be just engaging with issues impacting the Queer community, we encourage you to take advantage of numerous educational and informational tools that can accessed online, including through the Hamilton Public Library. Queerness challenges and calls on all of us to reconsider beliefs and realities about more than just gender and sexuality but about how we love and live alongside each other in ways that respect and celebrate differences. All members of our community should rise to that challenge out of a shared spirit of love and acceptance – and not hatred and violence.
View the full statement on anti-2SLGBTQ+ action at Terryberry library
Press ReleaseFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2022
Earlier this year, Constable Brian Wren was charged with assault. Police service said it received a video from a business and a citizen after police arrested a suspect in a stolen vehicle investigation. Police said the officer’s use of force led to a criminal investigation.
Const. Brian Wren was immediately suspended and now also faces an assault charge. His first court appearance was July 21.
The individual assaulted and harmed is a member of the City of Hamilton Indigenous community. Members of the Indigenous community are very concerned that this appears not to be an isolated incident. This is the second time this has happened to this individual. The Hamilton Regional Indian Friendship Centre has justice related programs and reports that these types of allegations of aggressive police behaviours are frequent. This particular assault needs to be taken seriously, and major changes need to be made to not only protect our Indigenous relatives but also help protect our relatives of colour, members of various other ethnic backgrounds and members of other marginalized groups.
A full press release will take place on Tuesday August 2, 2022 at 1230pm in front of Hamilton Police Services downtown central location at 155 King William Street, Hamilton Ontario with members of Indigenous leadership, Indigenous community members and our friends and allies.
January 21, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hamilton Community Legal Clinic’s Response to Councillor Nann’s Motion Re: Encampment Response
Hamilton Community Legal Clinic welcomes Council’s vote to change the way it responds to encampments. Specifically, the City has agreed to consult with community stakeholders, including front line services working with the unhoused population, those with lived experience, and the health sector, to create a “human rights based, health focused approach to housing”. A copy of the motion can be reviewed by clicking here.
We have always encouraged this type of collaboration and person-centred approach.
Tackling the issue of homelessness and some of its root causes can seem like a monumental undertaking. There are, however, immediate alternatives to encampments evictions which do not require significant funding changes: revising and unifying shelter service restriction policies so that fewer people are unnecessarily banned from shelters, temporarily suspending by-law enforcement, and allocating existing emergency funds to affordable housing projects like tiny cabins (which have already been established in various municipalities).
We are pleased to see the City signal a willingness to engage in an open dialogue on an incredibly important matter. We encourage the City of Hamilton to prioritize these discussions and resolution in light of the urgency of the ongoing pandemic, shelter and housing crisis.
We are hopeful that the newly formed committee results in solutions that address and eradicate the harms associated with homelessness and evicting encampment residents.
For a copy of this letter, please click here: Statement
The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, in partnership with Pro Bono Ontario and the Hamilton Law Association, is searching for volunteers lawyers to participate in the Hamilton Pro Bono Wills Project.
For more information, please review the flyer attached: Hamilton Pro Bono Wills – Flyer.
To participate in the program or inquire further about the work of the Hamilton Pro Bono Wills Project please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Kindly allow upwards to two weeks for a response.
Clare has worked in the non-profit sector for approximately 19 years as an Executive Director. She has extensive experience in leadership, strategy, public relations, advocacy, and management. She has served on many local, provincial, and national boards and committees, and is deeply committed to giving back to her community through her engagement with numerous social justice initiatives.
Since 2015, Clare has served as the CEO of Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice and bereavement services. Additionally, her past roles include Executive Director, Interval House of Hamilton; Counselling Coordinator, Sexual Assault Centre of Brant; and Continuing Education Professor of the Child and Youth Program, Mohawk College. She obtained her Bachelor of Sociology from the University of Western, as well as her Master of Social Work from York University.
Clare is a passionate and rights-based social justice advocate, and embodies the principles and values that the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic stands for. She will brings a wealth of experience from the organizations she has worked for in the past that will be of benefit to the Hamilton community.
We would like to congratulate Clare on her new role and look forward to continuing to fight for access to justice under her leadership.
We also extend our deepest gratitude to Hugh Tye for his exceptional leadership as our Executive Director over the past 26 years.
The Board of Directors
Hamilton Community Legal Clinic
We are disheartened that the Court considered the desperate act of sleeping in an encampment as a choice. We are concerned that this decision risks perpetuating the stigmatization of the unhoused population. By the City’s own admission, shelters are full and are unable to meet peoples’ disability related needs. This gap often results in people being denied entry or kicked out. This segment of the population will now be left to sleep outside in harms’ way, without the use of a tent to shield them from the harsh elements. Some will move further off the grid and into hiding, disconnecting from vital supports like medical and street outreach.
While we disagree with the decision, we are encouraged that there has been increased public attention and criticism of Hamilton’s mistreatment of individuals in encampments, particularly in contrast to other innovative and compassionate municipalities that have expanded shelter options and provided food, social workers, mental health crisis worker, potable water and bathroom facilities. Going forward, we hope that the City will adopt similar creative solutions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the community.
This decision is not an endorsement or a license for the City to aggressively and violently evict homeless persons into a cycle of displacement. The City must refrain from the aggressive and heavy handed displacement tactics seen in Toronto. It must ensure that people have an actual indoor space option before being told to move along. It must increase the number of shelter spaces, particularly for women and couples. It must urgently provide low barrier shelter options so that individuals are not repeatedly kicked out. It must prioritize investment in affordable, supportive housing, refrain from enacting policies that contribute to homelessness, and seek funding from other levels of government to actually meet the needs of the unhoused community.
Despite not granting the injunction, the judge confirmed that there is a triable Charter issue. The full Charter challenge remains the next step in this matter, should the City continue to fail to meet the needs of the unhoused population.
The bottom line is that, despite the Court’s decision, there remains a segment of Hamilton’s population, the most vulnerable, who have nowhere else to go. We are hopeful that the City will commit to an ongoing dialogue with community stakeholders and prioritize addressing the housing crisis over the enforcement and displacement of homeless individuals.